Why are Shell Vials Used in Chromatography? 7 Reasons
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Why are Shell Vials Used in Chromatography? 7 Reasons

Nov. 8th, 2023
Chromatography is an invaluable analytical technique used in various scientific and industrial settings to separate, identify and quantify compounds within mixtures. An essential part of chromatography labs is holding samples in sample vials - shell vials are among those most often employed - for analysis; this article examines why shell vials have become so widely utilized in this regard.

What Are Shell Vials (Microvials)?

Shell vials, also referred to as microvials, are specially-designed sample vials intended for use with chromatography applications. These vials typically feature cylindrical bodies topped by flat, conical, or rounded bottoms and secured with screw-cap or crimp-top seals - ideal for handling smaller sample volumes than their traditional counterparts such as vials containing 1 mL to 2 mL capacities.

Why Shell Vials Are Needed in Chromatography

1.Minimized Sample Contamination

Shell vials are one of the main reasons that are chosen in chromatography due to their ability to prevent sample contamination. They're often made of inert materials like borosilicate glass or clear plastic that reduce interactions between samples and their surfaces - something which is crucial when conducting sensitive analytical work such as gas chromatography (GC) or liquid chromatography (LC).
Interested in understanding why glass chromatography vials outperform plastic? Dive into this article for insights and advantages:Top 3 Reasons Why Glass Chromatography Vials are Better Than Plastic Vials

2.Excellent Chemical Resistance

Shell vials are widely recognized for their excellent chemical resistance, a critical feature in chromatography. They can withstand solvents and chemicals without degradation or leaching compromising sample integrity or leading to unwanted chemical reactions between sample and vial. This robust resistance ensures sample integrity is preserved throughout chromatographic analysis without unwanted reactions between vial and sample occurring during analysis.

3. Consistency and Reproducibility

Shell vials are designed with consistent dimensions and an even, flat bottom in mind for reproducible and reliable chromatographic results. Sample volumes and injection techniques must remain uniform to produce accurate data - an essential factor when dealing with shell vials.

4. Compatibility with Autosamplers

Chromatography laboratories typically utilize autosamplers for high-throughput analysis, and shell vials are perfectly compatible with these automated systems. Their standardized design facilitates effortless loading and unloading into autosampler trays for efficient sample processing while mitigating human error risk.

5. Variety of Closure Options 

Shell vials offer flexibility to chromatographers through various closure options such as screw-caps or crimp-tops for sealing purposes, offering them more options when it comes to sample integrity is of utmost concern. Screw-caps provide quick resealing after multiple injections while crimp-tops offer reliable security seals where sample integrity must be upheld.

Curious about selecting the perfect cap for your chromatography vial? Dive into this article for expert guidance on making the right choice:How to Choose the Right Cap for Your Chromatography Vials?

6. Visibility and Clarity

Shell vials must offer transparency so chromatographers can inspect their samples visually; this feature is particularly beneficial when working with colored or murky samples, which allows visual inspection. Clear visibility also ensures no air bubbles or particulate matter are introduced during sample preparation and loading processes.

7. Economical and Eco-Friendly

Shell vials are typically cost-effective and eco-friendly options that can be recycled without harming the environment. Furthermore, their durability and reusability (with proper cleaning) make them an eco-friendly solution for laboratories looking to minimize waste production.


Shell vials have quickly become the go-to choice in chromatography laboratories due to their ability to minimize sample contamination, be resistant to chemicals and autosamplers, have flexible closure options and cost effectiveness. Their widespread adoption speaks volumes of their utility and practicality in providing accurate analytical results.

Interested in discovering 50 insightful responses about HPLC vials? Look no further, as this article provides a comprehensive overview:50 Most Frequently Asked Questions on HPLC Vials